[s4s] and internet memes

[s4s] is the best board on 4chan.org because it is the nicest board and because it is everything in internet culture not only accepted but also taken to crazy extremes. It is a funhouse mirror held up to the reddits and 9gags and 4chan boards and all the rest.

On [s4s] making a new meme is as easy as posting an image and calling it a meme, preferably misspelling the word meme somehow. All the tired old internet words like “epic” and “lol” are made new again by changing random letters – epic becomes ebin or ebig, lol becomes lel becomes kek becomes zug zug.1 Everyone is friendly and accepting and wants to know whether you found your epin new mene on Facebook or reddit, the birthplaces of all great humorous content.

The ridiculous, contextless pictures of walruses and Lisa Simpsons and the eager application of the word “meme” could be considered a satire of 9gag/Meme Generator culture, where using an online generator to overlay white Impact text on some picture is called “making a meme”, even when at best you’re just making a variation on a predetermined formula and at worst you’re missing the point of the image entirely and/or inserting witty but unrelated text.

lepurplehatman

It’s okay that this image has a watermark, because it’s part of the anti-joke I’m making.

Not everyone was born to be a comedian and nowhere is this more clearly shown than on any given meme aggregator website, or, let’s be honest, most people’s Facebook feeds.

4chan posters are notorious for complaining about their jokes being stolen, run into the ground and monetized by more mainstream websites, and for disowning anything (doge, Anonymous, My Little Pony) that gains enough traction outside their community.

But on [s4s], none of that matters. Everything is a meme (doubly so if its post ends in doubles), everything is epic (or usually some misspelling of that like “epin” or “ebig”). Anyone who swears or insults anyone else is called “rude”. Any porn posted is called “lewd”. Even the 4chan staple word “fag” is replaces with “fig” in all its variants (newfig, oldfig, namefig, samefig).

So many of the memes created by [s4s] posters have names beginning in “le” (“le thin hair chin man”, “le daily remembrance face”, etc) that it’s difficult to remember whether “le” used in this sort of context ever meant anything other than “I am ironically imitating a 13 year old who just discovered /r/f7u12”.

So it’s all about being polite, democratising humour and repeating bizarre in-jokes, but you don’t just do any of those things, you take them past their logical extreme to the point where you’re congratulating every eleventh post on the board for ending in two or more repeating digits.

lefancyoldguy

Well, humour is in the unexpected, I’ll give it that. (source)

[s4s] was originally created as an April Fool’s day prank in 2013. Its official name is “Shit 4chan Says”, meant as a reference to “Shit Reddit Says” (SRS), the infamous subreddit created with the intent of highlighting misogyny, racism and various other forms of discrimination and social insensivity on the largely male geek-dominated reddit. So, originally, it was probably envisioned as a board where people would ironically report incidents of discrimination on 4chan and tell each other to check their privilege.2

But that wasn’t really enough to sustain a permanent board – you could probably get an amusing five minute internet video out of the concept, no more – so within the first day of its existence a strange culture had already started forming, centering mainly around the phenomenon of post numbers which end with two or more repeating digits3 as I’ve mentioned and telling people to check their privilege without any real context. And it only got weirder from there. There was even an album of original songs.

Web 2.0 communities are the perfect demonstration of Sturgeon’s Law. Allow anyone to post humour, and you get 9gag, i.e. watered-down versions of jokes that haven’t been funny in decades repeated ad nauseum. Allow anyone to weigh in on complex social issues, and you get Tumblr, where taking a stroll is a form of oppression. [s4s] just takes the trend to its logical conclusion to create an environment where everyone is inclusive and everything is weird and incoherent.

Irony this dedicated is basically the same as sincerity. The only visible hint of self-awareness is the one you read into the proceedings to keep yourself from going mad.

[s4s] is the endgame of the internet.


  1. I feel like 4chan posts are reaching a singularity where pretty much any otherwise meaningless string of characters will be automatically interpreted as “I found that funny”.
  2. Just briefly: at its core, I believe the idea of being aware of the advantages you were born into is a useful and meaningful one. However, the whole “check your privilege” thing has been blown way out of proportion and become kind of meaningless and silly, so we might need to find another set of terms for it.
  3. The idea of trying to get special post numbers predates [s4s], but [s4s] is the only board where you can “check the dubs” of every applicable post without fear of being banned or derailing the conversation in a thread.

Webmentions(?)